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  • No Pain, No Gain: Putting Conflict to Work in Your Stories

No story moves without conflict. No characters change without conflict. It's at the heart of every story—romance, mystery, mainstream, fantasy—and yet many writers shy away from it. We like our characters too much to make their lives miserable. That attitude can derail our storytelling. In this session, Laura DiSilverio provides techniques for increasing conflict in every scene and across the scope of the story or novel with the aid of a five-step process: (1) defining the viewpoint character’s goals and needs in each scene, (2) providing internal and/or external opposition to those goals, (3) giving the illusion of progress, (4) surprising with disappointment and setbacks, and (5) incorporating a “What Could Be Worse?” mind-set. She also discusses how injecting conflict into characters' relationships and goals can get your story off to a fast start and keep the conflict humming through the “sagging middle” of a novel.